Amplifying Minds

Learning and Growing Together

Archive for the tag “thinking”


Today is the 5th annual picture book event:  #pb10for10. Here’s how you participate!


And, here are my 10 favorite picture books for looking at the world differently:

The Napping House Not only does this book show varying perspectives of the room on each page, but I have an incredible story to go with it.  I had just read this book (numerous times) in my kindergarten class right before one Halloween weekend.  Over that weekend, one of my students was in an accident and went into a coma. My Teaching Assistant and I went to see her Monday after school and when we talked to/at her, her brain pressure dropped, so I kept going back, and took books to read to her as I sat with her. Whenever I read The Napping House, she became visibly calmer and seemed to be hearing and recognizing it.  I left the tape that went with it, and the nurses would play if for her. When she came out of the coma, she asked me to read it to her…over and over…so I know reading a favorite book made a difference for this child.

Piggie Pie NO group of kids I have ever shared this book with has  not enjoyed it tremendously!

Zoom such a great book for predicting and seeing things differently; especially great for working with “bird’s eye view.”

It Looked Like Spilt Milk  This book teaches that with a little imagination, something ordinary could become something extraordinary. (Amazon’s words)

The Potato Man (and The Great Pumpkin Switch), but these go together to show storytelling and the importance of seeing the world through another perspective. Kids want to know where # 3 is–and some of my 4th graders even wrote their own “Lucky Penny” stories.

If  You Give A Mouse  A Cookie (I use it to teach Algebraic thinking with the “if…, then…”)

Tomorrow’s Alphabet -Explore a wonderful world of possibility with an imaginative alphabet puzzle that encouraged young readers to look beyond the obvious. (Amazon’s words!)

Bedhead and Baghead (two books, but they go together) Having  a bad hair day? These two kids handle it differently, but help us understand the commonality of worrying about how we look to others.

Counting On Frank–this one shows how a mathematical thinker looks at and thinks about the world

Picture This-a book full of visual surprises, sharing new perspectives on what came before and what is yet-to-come


I could do another 10 like this….but am going to go read other’s lists and gather a whole new bunch of ideas for books to use in a new school year!


First Day Plans

So our kids have been in school for 8 days.  Teachers have been building classroom community and pre-assessing for some achievement groupings, and getting to know the kids.  We’ve been doing some pre-work on our new devices (an infusion of 40 Chromebooks and 18 iPad minis this year) and talking about our Design 2015 projects in each grade level.  So far the highlight of the year for kids (and definitely our principal!) has been the Book Brigade, I think.

But the highlight for me is that the first week of September I get to start working with kids more than one on one testing them! So here’s what I’m thinking about math.

I’ll be working with 25 or so kids in 5th grade–who will be heading towards a middle school honors class that is a compacted 6th, 7th, and 8th grade curriculum.  There are two likely paths for these kids when they get to middle school.  Those who succeed in the 3 year compacted class will go into Algebra in 7th grade. Some, who are less confident and secure in the concepts taught next year, will go into a compacted year of 7th and 8th and go into Algebra in 8th grade.

My goal, to amplify their minds this year, is to help to my kids look at the world through a mathematical lens, rather than see math as algorithms to be learned. So, we’ll be working with real life examples whenever possible, they’ll be learning math within real contexts and we’ll do units like the “Artful Engineering” one developed to use the fabricators we have. I’ll be collaborating with a fifth grade teacher for this class, and we’ll mostly do it in her room.

But this first week, I can’t decide quite how to begin…

I want to have discussions about what is math and what does a mathematician do. I’m considering asking them to do/make something to show what they know/think/believe about math. I’m not sure that wouldn’t be too open-ended for the first day, though.

I want to take in some new manipulatives that will end up being snap cubes, but right now are nets of cubes.  I want to ask kids to figure out what they are and design something with them, to see what they build and how they think.

I want to read Counting on Frank and talk about “Henry Questions.”

I want to show the figure from Lockhart’s Lament and ask them how much room the triangle takes up and hear their thinking–and watch how it changes as others share theirs.

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I want them to fiddle with questions such as:

“A piece of wood is 15 feet long. How many 3/4-foot sections can be cut from it?” so I can see how they think.

I want them to list and think about questions that arise from looking at things like:


I’ve thought about building a slideshow of some kind and asking them to pick a picture and describe the math in it. I’d include pictures like those from here and here and here.

I want them to see math as art, as fun, as manageable and achievable and most of all something to invest in and enjoy!

So I’m trying to figure out how to involve and engage them in something cool…something that shares what math means to them… something that helps me begin to know more deeply how they think and what they think doing math is.

What would you do?

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